Gate experts weigh in on gated community safety

Experts respond to KSAT story detailing safety concerns among gated communities

SAN ANTONIO - A gate installer and a property manager both expressed strong opinions Friday about a KSAT story aired earlier this week

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The story, detailing how emergency responders were unable to reach a dying young man because of a locked gate, prompted strong emotions.

"I watched the story and I was appalled," said Thomas Howard, the automatic entryway manager for Quality Fencing & Welding.

Howard said the part that struck him was the fact that the Regency at Lookout Canyon, the community in which 22-year-old Chris Clingan was killed, had not installed a siren-operated sensor.

"That device attaches to the entry box and has a mic inside," said Howard. "If an emergency siren is wailed for three seconds, the gate automatically opens."

Management at the Regency at Lookout Canyon admitted they did not have such a system, and also said they were unaware of a law -- now on the books for three years -- that requires SOS systems at every gated community in unincorporated Bexar County.

Records and 911 calls obtained by KSAT show Bexar County Sheriff's deputies were unable to reach Clingan for nearly 10 minutes, as they struggled to find a gate code.

"It's horrifying really, and installing one of those things is a no-brainer," said Juanita Seekins, of Associa ProComm, a large property management company.

"We've installed them at all our facilities, and we knew about the law," said Seekins. "We belong to a group called the Community Associations Institute of San Antonio, and right after the law was enacted, (Fire Marshal Craig Roberts) came out to one of our luncheons and gave us a lesson on the benefits of the system."

Howard said the systems are cheap at about $400 per unit, and install within a half-hour.

"There's really no excuse for not having one of these," said Howard.

The city of San Antonio does not require SOS systems, but Howard said residents should demand their communities purchase one anyway.

"It just eliminates any possible confusion and lets law enforcement in to do their job within seconds," said Howard.

For a list of recent stories Matt Rivers has done, click here.


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